CFP committee gives green light to potential 12-team field

The College Football Playoff management committee will consider expanding the current four-team field to a 12-team format when it meets in Chicago next week. The proposal does not include guarantees for conference champions. Instead, it calls for the bracket to include the six highest-ranked conference champions, plus the six highest-ranked other teams as determined by the CFP’s selection committee. There would be no limit on the number of participants from a conference, and no league would qualify automatically. Funny enough, with the way that the Pac-12 has been pushing for expansion of the CFP to get their first team in since 2016, there would not have a team that would have qualified under those parameters in 2020. Instead AAC conference champion Cincinnati and Sun Belt conference champion Coastal Carolina would’ve gotten bids over Oregon, the Pac-12 conference champion. “This proposal at its heart was created to provide more participation, for more players and more schools. “In a nutshell, that is the working group’s message” CFP executive director Bill Hancock said. The proposal written by a subcommittee made up of SEC commissioner Greg Sankey, Notre Dame athletic director Jack Swarbrick, and Mountain West commissioner Craig Thompson was presented to the entire group group of FBS Commissioners Thursday morning. The 10 FBS commissioners and Swarbrick must agree on a format when they meet next Thursday and Friday to discuss the topic in person for the first time since before the coronavirus pandemic. While the four members of the working group spent the past two years researching the possibilities to ultimately conclude that 12 teams provide the best opportunity, it’s still possible the seven other members of their group might support another format or take issue with the recommendation. Many are confident that they will agree on a consensus and will be able to meet in Dallas the following week.

What the field will look like:
Four highest-ranked conference champions would be seeded 1-4 and receive a first-round bye
Teams 5-12 would play each other in the first round would play each other in the first round on the home-field of the higher ranked team.
The quarterfinals and semifinals would be played in bowl games and the national championship game would remain at a neutral site.
The first-round games would take place on campus sometime during the two-week period following conference champion games. The quarterfinals would be played on January 1 or January 2 when New Year’s Day falls on a Sunday and on an adjacent day.
Notre Dame or any other independent team if ranked number one in the country cannot be seeded higher than no. 5. The selection committee’s top 25 is different from the seeding because the top four seeds go to the highest-ranked conference champions.
This model allows for the possibility of teams competing in 17 games, but Swarbrick said it’s “highly unlikely” but its not “impossible”. He pointed out that in order for that to happen, a team seeded No. 5-12 would have to play in a conference championship game, qualify for a first-round game and then run the table.

What’s coming:
If the group agrees on a model in Chicago , it will present the plan to the 11 presidents and chancellors who comprise the CFP’s board of managers at a meeting in Dallas on June 22.

By Carter Huff

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